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Why I’m Done Cellaring Beer—An Update

Bourbon County Brand Stout
Mike Zoller

About a year ago I wrote how in 2017 I was going to stop cellaring beers and enjoy them fresh. The article got way more exposure than I would have ever thought and it brought out some pretty strong emotions in people—both for and against cellaring.

I thought it would be interesting to revisit my 2017 resolution and see how I did.

(Read: Why I’m Done Cellaring Beer in 2017)

First I should probably address some “issues” people had with my first article. It seems as if people thought my cellar was a cardboard box I had under a radiator. I’m quite confident that the way I cellar my beers is appropriate and the best possible way to do it for someone with a small apartment in Chicago. We’re moving in August so don’t worry a cellar for beer is a must-have. I’m sure we’ll get that.

After saying all year that I wouldn’t cellar beer and that my goal was to deplete my cellar throughout 2017, I opened it up today and it’s the same. In fact, it might have grown. So to say that my 2017 resolution didn’t go as planned would be an understatement—I failed.

But a year ago when I wrote this, I didn’t think about how hard it is to go through a cellar. You’re probably thinking, just drink the beer. It’s easier said than done. Crazy, right?

About 85% of my cellar is big stouts, many barrel-aged, and the rest sours. Just about all the beers are in bottles bigger than 12 ounces so to take them down myself would be quite the challenge. In 2017 I brought as much as I could to bottle shares and I got through quite a few older Bourbon Counties, Surly Darkness’ and so forth.

The problem is that as I got rid of beers, I would simply replace them with newer beers. I would open a 2015 KBS and replace it with a 2017 KBS. I could only make a little dent in my cellar when I would go to a bottle share, but within a few weeks I’d be right back where I started.

This sounds like the biggest first-world problem ever, and honestly it is.

Another issue I ran into is that in Chicago during the summer months drinking a 13% barrel-aged stout isn’t always appealing. While it gave me a good time to go through my sours, the stouts sat there. Sure there were a few bottle shares where we broke out the bigger beers, but not as many as there have been recently.

(Read: Why I Stopped Rating Beers on Untappd)

So what will I try to do in 2018? My goal will still be to take the cellar down a little bit but maybe not shoot for the whole thing—that’s probably a bit ambitious. I’ll start with a baby step and say I’d like to reduce my cellar by 15% by this time next year. I have about 75 bottles in the cellar now so let’s go for a little bit more than 15% and when I revisit this next year I want to be at 60 bottles.

I’m still going to be collecting bottles throughout 2018 but if you happen to see me at a bottle share, you know I’ll be bringing the good stuff and lots of it.

Cheers everyone and here’s to a great new year!


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